March 25, 2012

First World Problems

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When Odysseus attempted to get back to Ithaca, he spent 20 years battling witches, Cyclops and the six-headed monster Scylla. Just for the record, I would take a 40 Scyllas over American Airlines any day. Up until yesterday afternoon, I had been planning to write this column about what would happen if January Jones and John Hamm actually had children (my theory is that the world could not take that much beauty and would just end). However, after the most stressful 24 hours of my life, I have decided to talk about the Airline Industry and how I want it to die. If all had gone according to plan, my Saturday would have gone something like this: I would have been slightly annoyed to be waking up before Starbucks was even open to get to Los Angeles International Airport by 7 a.m. Then I would stumble onto flight 4101 to Chicago O’Hare, sleep for a couple of hours and then walk briskly to my connecting gate which would begin boarding right as I got there. Feeling somewhat harried, I would have collapsed into my seat on the flight from Chicago to Syracuse, slept some more then awoken to be in Syracuse by 5:30 p.m. From there, I would have taken my bus from Syracuse to Ithaca, plopped down in my desk chair, ordered some Chinese food and watched a couple of episodes of Mad Men. The L.A. to Chicago end of the trip went pretty much as planned — except that due to maintenance, my flight out of L.A. was delayed 20 minutes. Instead, my brisk walk from the K terminal to the G terminal turned into a frantic sprint, something for which I was absolutely not dressed (I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to wear sandals). When I did arrive, panting and sweaty at Gate G3, the gates were closed, and even though I could see my plane sitting there, the woman at the gate (I’ve forgotten her name, but I will be calling her Yolanda) told me I was not allowed to board. Luckily, I kept my composure as I calmly explained the situation to Yolanda. And when I say I kept my composure, I mean I burst into tears. Yolanda was not pleased. When I wailed that I needed to get to Syracuse, Yolanda angrily got me on to the last flight  for the night, which was on another airline, and took me through Cleveland. Also this flight to Cleveland was in yet another terminal, and the plane was leaving just as Yolanda yelled at me to run and catch it. So run I did. I scurried onto the smallest airplane I had ever seen, and touched down in Cleveland 55 minutes later. The one positive part of this saga is that the employees at the Cleveland airport were lovely. Remember how I just said that the plane to Cleveland was on the smallest I had ever seen? Well, the plane from Cleveland to Syracuse was smaller. And there was a lot of turbulence. I kept thinking that if I were to die, I would go back to Chicago and haunt Yolanda. The other thing I was thinking about was if the plane did crash and we all survived but were trapped on some desert island a la Lost, and somehow the rest of humanity all perished in some nuclear war, who on the plane would I restart human civilization with? I decided on Calvin, the flight attendant. When I did make it to Syracuse, of course my suitcase was not there and I spent an hour going over the details of my route with Baggage Services. I threw my hands up in despair and left Syracuse suitcase-less with only a faint hope that it would be found and delivered to me at some point.All in all, I recognize that my situation is not so bad. Yes, I will be dressed somewhat funnily wearing the odd assemblage of sun dresses and snow jackets that I left in my dorm room until I get my jeans and t-shirts which are hopefully on their way to me, but it could have been a lot worse. I’m sure Calvin is a lovely fellow, but in any case I’m glad it did not come to that. The whole problem of having to lug through four different airports to get back to school and have my clothes and shoes lost somewhere along the way, is one that the majority of the world does not have the luxury of facing. It is one giant First World Problem, and I really shouldn’t be complaining. But it’s similar to a discussion one of my friends had with her rabbi when she was 12: Even though she had to talk about the evils of gossip and how Miriam was punished with leprosy for gossiping about Moses’ new wife, they both knew she was not going to stop gossiping any time soon. So, I will continue to complain about the fact that my good toothbrush is somewhere along the route from Chicago to Syracuse. I like complaining and I am good at it. But, at least I do so with the knowledge of how lucky, or how spoiled, I really am. And I am glad that, instead of being greeted by warring nobles upon my return to Ithaca, I was greeted by Don Draper’s charming smile on Netflix.

Original Author: Julia Moser